Downtown San Antonio continues to rebound economically as the impact of the pandemic has subsided and more people return to work.

From the University of Texas San Antonio Downtown Campus expansion to the VelocityTX innovation campus on East Houston Street, developments along Broadway and the Pearl, to the various hotel and residential projects along the San Antonio River Walk, construction is proceeding and should continue to expand downtown San Antonio and preserve the city as a premier destination for business and tourist travel, conventions, education and entertainment.

With continued construction of major development projects, strong drive-market tourist traffic, and almost 84,000 employees and 28,000 residents, downtown San Antonio is poised for a bright future.

The end of the U.S.-Mexico border closure to nonessential travel, instituted in the early days of the pandemic, means more Mexican visitors will be returning soon, impacting downtown hospitality and retail. From spring break in March to Fiesta from Thursday to April 10, and the subsequent Semana Santa, or Holy Week, from April 10-16, there are many exciting and meaningful reasons for people to visit San Antonio.

The impact of tourists from Mexico and elsewhere on downtown San Antonio illustrates an important point. What makes the center of the world’s most celebrated cities great isn’t only architecture, environment, parks and buildings — it’s also people. Great downtowns bring people together for business, dining, arts and culture, and recreation, and to live.

The pandemic has kept tourists away from downtown San Antonio, but it has also kept San Antonians away from the historic center of our city. The business community has an important role to play in re-energizing our downtown and broader economy. Returning workers to downtown offices and patronizing downtown businesses and venues can help restore the local forces that invigorate downtown.

Tourism is an integral part of the San Antonio economy and brings approximately 34 million visitors and $14 billion in economic impact, and employs roughly 122,500 people. We look forward to hosting more conventions at our world-class Convention Center, and the resulting increase in foot traffic and economic impact felt throughout the central business district.

In addition to the Alamo, with many enhancements coming from a renovation plan and the downtown River Walk, the Museum Reach and Mission Reach of the River Walk as well as Southtown have become major attractions. Combined, they provide a host of opportunities for families and friends to gather and to enjoy art exhibits, culinary adventures, craft beer, authentic heritage experiences, recreational sports like kayaking or canoeing, running, rollerblading, cycling and more.

San Antonio was among the 10 fastest-growing large cities from 2010-2020. Our city continues to grow at a steady clip, as our quality of life, work and play opportunities increase. The people moving here could be influenced by the fact that San Antonio is among the top 30 metro areas with the strongest job growth during the COVID-19 recovery.

On top of that, our great city was recently ranked in Travel + Leisure as one of the top 15 cities in the country. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping and overall value.

We are blessed to have one of the most beautiful cultural downtown experiences in all of America. We need the continued return of conventions, San Antonio River Walk dining and shows at music venues and theaters through safe event execution, but we also need local residents to return to downtown. It’s time to come out, celebrate and return to doing the things we have traditionally enjoyed.

Mike Sohn is president and CEO of IBC Bank-San Antonio.

Source: San Antonio Express-News | Mike Sohn